Having completed the article I wrote earlier regarding America’s practice of trying juveniles as adults, I decided to have a quick read of the news online. During my reading, I found a story regarding twelve-year-old Cristian Fernandez.
The prosecutor, Angela Corey, said “We have to protect the public from this young man”. Corey requested that Cristian be tried as an adult. If he were tried as a child and found guilty, he would be released by the time he turns 21.
Cristian is accused of killing David Galarriago in their Florida home in March this year. David died of a fractured skull which caused a bleed on his brain. Two days after being admitted to hospital, David died as a result of his injuries. An autopsy concluded that his injuries were consistent with being punched in the head.
In January this year, Cristian assaulted his younger brother and broken his leg. That injury was initially attributed to a jungle gym fall. Bianella Susana, mother to both boys, later admitted she had lied to investigators and that Cristian had broken his brother’s leg whilst wrestling him. She continued to let him babysit his younger brother.
Due to his history of violence and poor behaviour, prosecutors decided to charge Fernandez as an adult although they did acknowledge the sad state of affairs that led them to this outcome.
The defense already have an array of mitigating circumstances: an unstable family life, occurrences of sexual assault and an abusive stepfather who committed suicide. His defence feels the system has failed Cristian, and says that he can be rehabilitated. The defense states that Cristian is the victim.
Fernandez’s biological father has never been in his life; he went to prison on sexual assault charges after Fernandez’s conception. Cristian’s stepfather shot himself in front of the family to avoid charges of child abuse.
Cristian’s mother gave birth to him aged just twelve years old with both being put into foster care when Cristian was two after he was found wandering naked outside a Florida motel. He was meant to be in the care of his drug-addict grandmother at the time.
Cristian has been examined by two psychologists who found him emotionally under-developed. If that’s the case, can he really be tried as an adult?
An arrest report states that Fernandez was looking after his brother at the family home and when their mum returned, David was unconscious. She did not call an ambulance, instead wiping the blood off his face, changing his clothes and putting ice on his head. She hoped it was a concussion and that he would wake up. Police believe she waited two hours before driving to a local hospital. Doctors told police if she had sought immediate medical attention, David might have survived.
Twenty-five year old Biannela Susana has been charged with negligent homicide and will go on trial later this year. Her twelve-year old son is charged with first degree murder and if he is found guilty, will be sentenced to a mandatory life sentence.
What do you think of trying kids as adults? And what about mandatory life sentencing with no exceptions in murder cases?